Recently, we had the privilege of talking about Control4 with Ron Jones, home automation expert and Senior Project Manager for Home Technology Pros, a Control4 dealer in the greater East Bay, California area. We picked Ron’s brain about some of the topics homeowners interested in Control4 smart technology might want to know about. Continue reading for the questions and answers!
A: Well, I owned my own AV and automation business, First Reflection AV, for more than eight years before joining Home Technology Pros (HTP). After working for Hewlett Packard for 14 years, I decided that corporate life was not for me, so I decided to pursue my passion, which was home AV. First Reflection started very simply with programming remotes and such, and it just grew beyond my expectations into a fully-fledged home automation company. Now, as an HTP employee partner, I focus on managing projects throughout the East Bay area.
A: I met Marc, Home Technology Pros’ Managing Partner, a couple of years ago on a very large home automation project. I brought Marc in to co-manage the project with me. That led to managing more projects together, and when Marc reached out to me about his plans to begin franchising Home Technology Pros, it seemed like a great fit. When I started as an employee partner, I also started the process of becoming certified with Control4.
A: There are so many tech-savvy homeowners in the Danville, Alamo, Pleasanton and greater East Bay area, and they know more about Control4 than any other brand. “Do you install Control4?” they ask. I’m glad I can now respond “Absolutely!” Control4 has the flexibility and power to integrate any type of home automation feature that homeowners might want. It has more capability and functionality than any other system. Control4 manufactures their own hardware, in addition to integrating with other systems, and that makes the platform a lot more reliable because it skips the complicated integration of talking between multiple devices and systems. Everything uses the Control4 platform. It’s programmer-friendly and user-friendly.
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A: It’s bigger than just Control4, honestly. The recession hit East Bay hard, and a lot of smart home companies went out of business. The demand for smart systems of all types has returned, but now there just aren’t as many home control companies ready to meet that demand. Part of the reason for that is that California has very strict regulations that integrators must meet to get properly licensed.
A: With Control4, you cannot become a dealer unless you’re licensed. So just the fact that you’re using a Control4 dealer lets homeowners rest easy and know that the business is properly licensed.
If you’re concerned about finding a reliable company beyond licensing, my recommendation is to always evaluate three things: reputation, years in business, and personality. Bring a few integrators out and get a feel for whether they’re a good fit for your needs. Do they seem genuine, sincere, honest? My litmus test is always to think to myself “how would I handle this if it were my own home?” If you have an integrator approaching a project from that perspective, you’re going to get quality work.
A: The big four are voice control of streaming media, lighting control, smart thermostats, and motorized door locks. Those four can combine to do a lot of neat things in a home (plus you can always expand later).
Something that people don’t usually think about when setting up a smart system is their network. Home networking affects every subsystem. It’s critical to have a solid, properly installed home network, both for wired and wireless equipment. Almost all of the homes I assess want home audio and video, cameras, remotes, and so forth, but they don’t think about the network. Nine out of ten homes have an improperly installed network. Your home network is the single biggest factor that can affect the success of home automation, so make sure that it’s a top priority.
A: The DIY version is going to be a bunch of individual apps on your phone or tablet. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it is like having independent remotes for the TV, Blu-ray player, and cable box – not as easy to use. A professional integrator is going to combine those different devices into one easy-to-use remote.
Another key difference is that with DIY, the apps don’t talk to each other, whereas in a professional system, you can have all the smart technologies work together to make life easier for you. In short, a professional system is more streamlined, reliable, and easy to use.
And honestly, most homeowners have other things they’d rather spend their time doing. It can be a headache. DIY is a source of frustration. I’m a professional integrator, and even I get frustrated with technology at times. Most people prefer to leave the hassle of designing and installing this technology to somebody who knows what they’re doing.
A: There are a lot of creative ways to use technology, but my favorite thing is designing systems that do multiple things at the touch of a button. If you want to watch a movie, for example, you could press a button and have the lights adjust to the perfect levels for movie-watching, the smart thermostat lower the temperature to just the right level, and the TV screen pulls up your different options. Then, if you want to get up during a movie to get a snack, one button turns on every light from the media room to the kitchen. It’s all very easy to use, and you just can’t get that with a DIY system.
A: Oh boy, there are a few that come to mind. One potentially problematic thing is buying equipment before contacting an integrator. You could end up buying the wrong equipment or products that aren’t very reliable. This is true particularly of surveillance cameras. I usually advocate for going wired instead of wireless because you’re limiting yourself by Wi-Fi range, plus one thing that people don’t realize about Wi-Fi cameras is that they’re not truly wireless—you still need to wire them for power.
On the other side of the spectrum, home automation is about more than just having high-end equipment. You’ve got to have somebody who knows what they’re doing when they set up that equipment. You can have the highest-quality products possible, but if your system isn’t properly configured, those devices are useless.
We often see homeowners try to do DIY, and then quickly realize they’re in over their heads. Of course, everything is fixable, but the better approach is to do a professional installation right from the start.
If you’d like to speak with Ron or another member of the Home Technology Pros team about adding a Control4 system to your East Bay home, please fill out this quick questionnaire or call us at 925.528.1483.